Category: Political Pandemonium
Sweden is in political turmoil and it’s the Right who are likely to benefit. Europe should sit up and take notice
worker | June 29, 2021 | 7:48 pm | Political Pandemonium, political struggle, Sweden | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/527495-sweden-no-confidence-vote/

Sweden is in political turmoil and it’s the Right who are likely to benefit. Europe should sit up and take notice

Sweden is in political turmoil and it’s the Right who are likely to benefit. Europe should sit up and take notice
The Eurosceptic Swedish Democrats are gaining in influence, as seen by their role in triggering a no-confidence vote in parliament. Their rise shows how a far-right party can be reinvented, and could cause shockwaves in the EU.

This week, Stefan Löfven became the first Swedish prime minister in history to lose a vote of no confidence in the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament. The vote was prompted by the government’s proposals to abolish rent controls and introduce free-market reforms. A broad alliance of centre-right and far-left parties opposed the scheme and Löfven, who heads a Social Democrat-Green coalition, lost the vote by 181 to 109, with 51 abstentions.

Löfven now has until next Monday to choose one of three options: he can resign and call a snap general election; he can try to negotiate a deal and keep his fragile coalition afloat; or he can lead a minority government.

Interestingly, the no-confidence vote was triggered by Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the much-maligned Swedish Democrats. His party is often described as ‘far-right’ or as ‘anti-immigrant’ by the mainstream media. The origins of the Swedish Democrats, granted, are somewhat murky, with a number of fascist sympathisers fronting the party in the early days. However, they have been growing in size and stature over the past decade. In the 2018 general election, for example, they won 17.5% of the vote and returned 62 members of the Riksdag, making them Sweden’s third-largest party by a good margin.

ALSO ON RT.COMSwedish PM Lofven remains public’s top choice despite losing no-confidence voteNow, I have some experience dealing with the Swedish Democrats. Back in 2014, two of their new MEPs applied to join UKIP’s grouping in the European Parliament. I have to admit that, at first, I was reticent. I had read about their party’s far-right origins and was worried that we would be taking on extremists. However, on the contrary, I found that we had recruited hard-working and moderate politicians. Indeed, so moderate were they that by 2018 they were sitting with the British Conservative Party in the European Parliament.

I also got to know their leader, Jimmie Åkesson, personally. He is an impressive individual, taking over the leadership in 2005 at the age of 26. He has since gone about cleansing his party of its past, expelling those who made racist or extremist statements and taking it mainstream. Other Swedish political parties have seemingly taken note, with a deal agreed back in March that centre-right parties would work together to bring down Löfven’s left-wing coalition. It seems that this week they succeeded, albeit with Sweden’s former Communist Party.

If a snap general election is called as a result of Löfven’s fall, then the Swedish Democrats are expected to make further gains. At the moment, they are polling around 20% and have been for some time. If these polls hold up, and there is no suggestion that they will not, Åkesson will undoubtedly angle for a place in any future centre-right coalition government. Indeed, as the leader of the third-largest party, and potentially the second, it would be difficult to deny him a position.

In the past, other parties have refused to work with the Swedish Democrats on account of their origins, but as time has passed, and Åkesson’s reforms have taken hold, that commitment has softened. For example, they are now in coalition with centre-right parties in local councils. Indeed, Åkesson has urged the creation of a strong and broad “conservative bloc” and insists that the “old arguments for not talking to us no longer exist.”

ALSO ON RT.COMSwedish parliament ousts PM Lofven in no-confidence voteThe Swedish Democrats have dropped some of their more radical policies to appeal to the centre-right. A commitment to the death penalty was abandoned, for example. Also, their long-held pledge to hold a ‘Swexit’ referendum on membership of the European Union was dropped in 2019 in favour of root-and-branch EU reform. I guarantee, however, that they will be watching how the UK performs very closely, and do not be surprised if the policy is resurrected if post-Brexit Britain prospers.

The Swedish Democrats have now got themselves into a position where they are the potential kingmakers of Swedish politics. Any centre-right coalition will require not only their blessing, but most likely their membership. Åkesson will also undoubtedly drive a hard bargain. He will certainly demand a drastic reduction in immigration and policies that promote a Swedish cultural identity. Moreover, last month he supported Danish plans to erect asylum camps in Africa and called on Sweden to follow suit.

If there is not an immediate general election and Löfven hangs on to power, then one has to be held next year anyway. There is no sign, however, that the Swedish Democrats are a ‘flash in the pan’ movement and they are now a permanent fixture in Swedish politics. Indeed, they may well be in an even stronger position this time next year.

If the Swedish Democrats enter government anytime soon, it will have a knock-on-effect for the rest of Europe. Sweden will undoubtedly become more Eurosceptic and further integration will be vetoed, boosting other European politicians who oppose the idea of a European superstate.

It is easy for those in large countries to pass Sweden off as a small nation on the northern peripheries of Europe, but mark my words, what is happening there at the moment could have repercussions for the rest of the continent.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Whither the Democratic Party?
worker | June 29, 2021 | 7:17 pm | Political Pandemonium, political struggle | Comments closed
– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/
If you do not wish to receive these notices, e-mail: zzsblogml@gmail.com with “unsubscribe” in the subject box.
Instead, the Democratic Party has been transformed by the contradictions inherent in its construction into something entirely new. Within the context of the evolution of US capitalism, it has undergone a profound rebuild no longer capable of serving the interests of those who formerly found hope in its success… To read more, please go to: https://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2021/06/whither-democratic-party.html
The People Speak (and They are Angry!)
worker | April 19, 2021 | 8:05 pm | Political Pandemonium, political struggle | Comments closed
If you sometimes think that US politicians are aliens descended from another galaxy, you are not alone… To read more, please go to: https://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2021/04/the-people-speak-and-they-are-angry.html
Wall Street banks ditch $19 billion of stocks in ‘unprecedented’ block trade selloff – media
worker | March 28, 2021 | 8:09 pm | Economy, Political Pandemonium | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/business/519419-wall-street-banks-block-trades/

Wall Street banks ditch $19 billion of stocks in ‘unprecedented’ block trade selloff – media

Wall Street banks ditch $19 billion of stocks in ‘unprecedented’ block trade selloff – media
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have reportedly sold $19 billion worth of shares in Chinese tech and US media companies. Traders are now wondering what caused the unusually massive move and whether it will continue next week.

Goldman Sachs alone liquidated $10.5 billion worth of stocks in block trades on Friday, Bloomberg reported citing the investment bank’s email to clients. The first batch, that included $6.6 billion worth of shares of Baidu, Tencent Music Entertainment Group and Vipshop Holdings, was sold before the market opened on Friday. Later that day, the bank reportedly managed the sale of $3.9 billion worth of shares in American media conglomerates ViacomCBS and Discovery, as well some other companies, such as Farfetch, iQiyi and GSX Techedu.

ALSO ON RT.COMPandemic profiteer: Morgan Stanley makes a killing during coronavirus crisisAnother US investment bank involved in the block trades, which are believed to have wiped $35 billion off affected firms’ valuations in just one day, was Morgan Stanley. The investment bank offered two batches of shares worth $4 billion each on Friday, according to the Financial Times.

While block trades, when sellers are looking for buyers for large volumes of securities at a price sometimes negotiated privately between the two parties, are a common thing, the scale of Friday’s moves raised eyebrows.

“I’ve never seen something of this magnitude in my 25-year career,” portfolio manager at Swiss-based Bellevue Asset Management AG, Michel Keusch, told Bloomberg.

Senior vice president at Wealthspire Advisors, Oliver Pursche, called the move “highly unusual,” adding that the market participants are now wondering if another wave of block trades could hit the market on Monday and Tuesday, causing wild price swings in the affected stocks.

Another issue is the unclear nature of those trades. Goldman Sachs explained the sales with “forced deleveraging,” the Financial Times wrote citing people with knowledge of the matter. The outlet also said that the move could indicate that a big hedge fund or family office faced some serious problems.

Meanwhile, CNBC reported the selling pressure in some US media and Chinese stocks was linked to the forced liquidation of positions held by family investment office Archegos Capital Management. The lack of details about the move makes the situation worrisome, Pursche said, as investors don’t know “whether this was the liquidation of just one fund or more than a fund, or whether it was a fund liquidation to begin with and the reason behind it.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Dan Patrick mental health detailed in court depositions
worker | March 2, 2018 | 8:14 pm | Local/State, Political Pandemonium, political struggle | Comments closed
http://abc13.com/politics/dan-patrick-mental-health-records-leaked-in-last-days-of-lt-govs-race/63863/

Dan Patrick, the front-runner in what has been a brutal GOP runoff for Texas Lieutenant Governor, spent time in psychiatric hospitals in the 1980s, according to court records released to ABC-13.

Patrick’s campaign late Thursday confirmed he “sought medical attention to help him cope with mild depression and exhaustion.” The campaign also accused Patrick’s opponent in the runoff, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst of being behind the release of the records.

Dewhurst has hit a “new low,” Patrick said, responding in a statement released late Friday.

The information about Patrick’s medical past was unearthed in a 1989 deposition from when Patrick, a former Houston sportscaster and restaurant owner, was suing a columnist for the now-closed newspaper, the Houston Post.

Patrick told attorneys in the deposition that he started seeing a psychologist in the early 1980s because he was “tired, fatigued, stressed out.”

ABC-13 also obtained records late Friday detailing Patrick’s hospital stays that appear to indicate he suffered from “acute anxiety” had “major depression” and at one point needed “sitters around the clock.”

One of those records is from a 1984 hospital stay shows a medical official’s notes quoting Patrick as saying, “Last night I did a foolish thing. I attempted suicide.”

“As I have said, I voluntarily entered the hospital twice in the 1980’s for exhaustion and to seek treatment for depression,” Patrick said in a statement late Friday. “Some of prescribed medications exacerbated my condition and created more serious problems. Through prayer and with the help of my family and physician, like millions of other American, I was able to defeat depression. I have not seen a doctor or taken any medication to treat depression in nearly 30 years…

“I am ready to serve.”

In 1982 Patrick was admitted to a short stay in Memorial City Hospital for what he called “rest, fatigue, exhaustion,” according to the deposition. He also said it was around this time that he started taking a common antidepressant medication.

In 1984, Patrick was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen, a substance abuse and psychiatric center. He said he didn’t recall psychiatric treatment there. Instead, he testified that he “Slept, basically for two weeks.”

Notes from that stay, though say that “The patient was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen after attempting suicide by overdosing and superficially slitting his wrist.”

The Patrick camp also released late Thursday a clean bill of mental health from Dr. Stephen Kramer, the psychologist who treated Patrick.

Patrick “was a patient of mine in the mid-1980s,” Kramer wrote in a 2011 letter. “He entered the hospital on a voluntary basis for the treatment of depression. The symptoms of depression decreased within a short period of time and he was discharged.”

Patrick is a Tea-Party favorite and a current state senator. Dewhurst has been lieutenant governor since 2003. Patrick bested Dewhurst in a four-candidate GOP primary in March: Patrick captured 41 percent of the vote to Dewhurst’s 28 percent.

The court documents about Patrick’s mental health past were provided to a small group of Texas media by Jerry Patterson, Texas’ land commissioner who was an unsuccessful GOP primary candidate for lieutenant governor and who now backs Dewhurst.

The Austin-based Texas Tribune reported Friday on an email some political reporters received from Patterson that suggested Dewhurst’s campaign at least knew about Patterson’s email dump to the media. Patterson denies coordinating with the Dewhurst campaign.

“Dewhurst has asked me to cease distribution of this information,” said Patterson. “He also asked me not to run against him for Lt. Gov. I didn’t really give a damn what David wanted then, and I don’t give a damn now. The voters of Texas need to know.”

Dewhurst’s campaign responded late Friday with the following statement:

    “Commissioner Jerry Patterson operates completely independently of my Campaign, and over my objections he chose to release information from Mr. Paul Harasim’s files, which are all part of the public domain. My heart goes out to Dan Patrick and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with this situation.”

Patrick did not appear to believe Dewhurst’s sincerity.

“The public response has been overwhelming,” Patrick said. “Dewhurst has been roundly criticized from all corners. On the other hand, I have received a flood of new support and encouragement – much from those Texans who have suffered from depression or had it touch their families or loved ones.

“Dewhurst started the day denying any involvement in the release of my medical records. His hapless surrogate, Jerry Patterson, removed all doubt in an afternoon email misfire where he clearly stated that it was Dewhurst’s idea. Dewhurst now tries to deny any connection to Patterson while just days ago his campaign produced a video of Patterson cleaning his guns and defaming me.

The leak also comes on the cusp of early voting for the runoff. Early voting begins May 19. Runoff Election Day is May 27.

Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, said the attack on Patrick my backfire.

“If anything, it’s likely to generate sympathy for someone who generally doesn’t elicit a lot of sympathy from voters,” Jones said. “Dan Patrick is seen as something of a hard, sometimes less than straightforward guy… now you’re effectively making him a sympathetic figure.”

Dr. Richard Pesikoff with the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Psychology said that while much of the stigma of mental illness and depression has been erased in recent years, it still is a confusing issue to many.

“The whole issue of mental illness is in a dark corner for some segments of the population,” he said.

Pesikoff also said that mental illness has a particular blemish for some when it comes to politics. He recalled Thomas Eagleton who, in 1972, was briefly George McGovern’s vice-presidential pick. He was asked to withdraw by the McGovern campaign after it was revealed that Eagleton was hospitalized three times for physical and nervous exhaustion.

“Eagleton got a really bad reception when he talked about his psych treatment,” Pesikoff said.

Pesikoff also pointed out that many in the U.S. and Texas have suffered from depression or mental illness.

Indeed, a 2012 National Institute of Mental Health survey shows that 18.6 percent of the country’s population has suffered from some sort of mental illness.

Political scientist Jones thinks that this latest bombshell may be a dud, like some others from the Dewhurst camp.

“David Dewhurst seems to be stuck in the eighties,” Jones said. “Every attack ad is focused on ‘Dan Patrick didn’t pay his taxes in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick hired undocumented immigrants in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick went into bankruptcy in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick had a mental health crises in the eighties.’

“Well, it’s 2014. That was like 30 years ago.”

Producer: Trent Seibert

Dan Patrick mental health detailed in court depositions

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Patrick blames opponent David Dewhurst for leak of mental health records, says Dewhurst ‘oozing sleaze.’

Dan Patrick, the front-runner in what has been a brutal GOP runoff for Texas Lieutenant Governor, spent time in psychiatric hospitals in the 1980s, according to court records released to ABC-13.

Patrick’s campaign late Thursday confirmed he “sought medical attention to help him cope with mild depression and exhaustion.” The campaign also accused Patrick’s opponent in the runoff, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst of being behind the release of the records.

Dewhurst has hit a “new low,” Patrick said, responding in a statement released late Friday.

The information about Patrick’s medical past was unearthed in a 1989 deposition from when Patrick, a former Houston sportscaster and restaurant owner, was suing a columnist for the now-closed newspaper, the Houston Post.

Patrick told attorneys in the deposition that he started seeing a psychologist in the early 1980s because he was “tired, fatigued, stressed out.”

ABC-13 also obtained records late Friday detailing Patrick’s hospital stays that appear to indicate he suffered from “acute anxiety” had “major depression” and at one point needed “sitters around the clock.”

One of those records is from a 1984 hospital stay shows a medical official’s notes quoting Patrick as saying, “Last night I did a foolish thing. I attempted suicide.”

“As I have said, I voluntarily entered the hospital twice in the 1980’s for exhaustion and to seek treatment for depression,” Patrick said in a statement late Friday. “Some of prescribed medications exacerbated my condition and created more serious problems. Through prayer and with the help of my family and physician, like millions of other American, I was able to defeat depression. I have not seen a doctor or taken any medication to treat depression in nearly 30 years…

“I am ready to serve.”

In 1982 Patrick was admitted to a short stay in Memorial City Hospital for what he called “rest, fatigue, exhaustion,” according to the deposition. He also said it was around this time that he started taking a common antidepressant medication.

In 1984, Patrick was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen, a substance abuse and psychiatric center. He said he didn’t recall psychiatric treatment there. Instead, he testified that he “Slept, basically for two weeks.”

Notes from that stay, though say that “The patient was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen after attempting suicide by overdosing and superficially slitting his wrist.”

The Patrick camp also released late Thursday a clean bill of mental health from Dr. Stephen Kramer, the psychologist who treated Patrick.

Patrick “was a patient of mine in the mid-1980s,” Kramer wrote in a 2011 letter. “He entered the hospital on a voluntary basis for the treatment of depression. The symptoms of depression decreased within a short period of time and he was discharged.”

Patrick is a Tea-Party favorite and a current state senator. Dewhurst has been lieutenant governor since 2003. Patrick bested Dewhurst in a four-candidate GOP primary in March: Patrick captured 41 percent of the vote to Dewhurst’s 28 percent.

The court documents about Patrick’s mental health past were provided to a small group of Texas media by Jerry Patterson, Texas’ land commissioner who was an unsuccessful GOP primary candidate for lieutenant governor and who now backs Dewhurst.

The Austin-based Texas Tribune reported Friday on an email some political reporters received from Patterson that suggested Dewhurst’s campaign at least knew about Patterson’s email dump to the media. Patterson denies coordinating with the Dewhurst campaign.

“Dewhurst has asked me to cease distribution of this information,” said Patterson. “He also asked me not to run against him for Lt. Gov. I didn’t really give a damn what David wanted then, and I don’t give a damn now. The voters of Texas need to know.”

Dewhurst’s campaign responded late Friday with the following statement:

    “Commissioner Jerry Patterson operates completely independently of my Campaign, and over my objections he chose to release information from Mr. Paul Harasim’s files, which are all part of the public domain. My heart goes out to Dan Patrick and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with this situation.”

Patrick did not appear to believe Dewhurst’s sincerity.

“The public response has been overwhelming,” Patrick said. “Dewhurst has been roundly criticized from all corners. On the other hand, I have received a flood of new support and encouragement – much from those Texans who have suffered from depression or had it touch their families or loved ones.

“Dewhurst started the day denying any involvement in the release of my medical records. His hapless surrogate, Jerry Patterson, removed all doubt in an afternoon email misfire where he clearly stated that it was Dewhurst’s idea. Dewhurst now tries to deny any connection to Patterson while just days ago his campaign produced a video of Patterson cleaning his guns and defaming me.

The leak also comes on the cusp of early voting for the runoff. Early voting begins May 19. Runoff Election Day is May 27.

Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, said the attack on Patrick my backfire.

“If anything, it’s likely to generate sympathy for someone who generally doesn’t elicit a lot of sympathy from voters,” Jones said. “Dan Patrick is seen as something of a hard, sometimes less than straightforward guy… now you’re effectively making him a sympathetic figure.”

Dr. Richard Pesikoff with the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Psychology said that while much of the stigma of mental illness and depression has been erased in recent years, it still is a confusing issue to many.

“The whole issue of mental illness is in a dark corner for some segments of the population,” he said.

Pesikoff also said that mental illness has a particular blemish for some when it comes to politics. He recalled Thomas Eagleton who, in 1972, was briefly George McGovern’s vice-presidential pick. He was asked to withdraw by the McGovern campaign after it was revealed that Eagleton was hospitalized three times for physical and nervous exhaustion.

“Eagleton got a really bad reception when he talked about his psych treatment,” Pesikoff said.

Pesikoff also pointed out that many in the U.S. and Texas have suffered from depression or mental illness.

Indeed, a 2012 National Institute of Mental Health survey shows that 18.6 percent of the country’s population has suffered from some sort of mental illness.

Political scientist Jones thinks that this latest bombshell may be a dud, like some others from the Dewhurst camp.

“David Dewhurst seems to be stuck in the eighties,” Jones said. “Every attack ad is focused on ‘Dan Patrick didn’t pay his taxes in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick hired undocumented immigrants in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick went into bankruptcy in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick had a mental health crises in the eighties.’

“Well, it’s 2014. That was like 30 years ago.”

Producer: Trent Seibert

Dan Patrick mental health detailed in court depositions

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Patrick blames opponent David Dewhurst for leak of mental health records, says Dewhurst ‘oozing sleaze.’

Dan Patrick, the front-runner in what has been a brutal GOP runoff for Texas Lieutenant Governor, spent time in psychiatric hospitals in the 1980s, according to court records released to ABC-13.

Patrick’s campaign late Thursday confirmed he “sought medical attention to help him cope with mild depression and exhaustion.” The campaign also accused Patrick’s opponent in the runoff, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst of being behind the release of the records.

Dewhurst has hit a “new low,” Patrick said, responding in a statement released late Friday.

The information about Patrick’s medical past was unearthed in a 1989 deposition from when Patrick, a former Houston sportscaster and restaurant owner, was suing a columnist for the now-closed newspaper, the Houston Post.

Patrick told attorneys in the deposition that he started seeing a psychologist in the early 1980s because he was “tired, fatigued, stressed out.”

ABC-13 also obtained records late Friday detailing Patrick’s hospital stays that appear to indicate he suffered from “acute anxiety” had “major depression” and at one point needed “sitters around the clock.”

One of those records is from a 1984 hospital stay shows a medical official’s notes quoting Patrick as saying, “Last night I did a foolish thing. I attempted suicide.”

“As I have said, I voluntarily entered the hospital twice in the 1980’s for exhaustion and to seek treatment for depression,” Patrick said in a statement late Friday. “Some of prescribed medications exacerbated my condition and created more serious problems. Through prayer and with the help of my family and physician, like millions of other American, I was able to defeat depression. I have not seen a doctor or taken any medication to treat depression in nearly 30 years…

“I am ready to serve.”

In 1982 Patrick was admitted to a short stay in Memorial City Hospital for what he called “rest, fatigue, exhaustion,” according to the deposition. He also said it was around this time that he started taking a common antidepressant medication.

In 1984, Patrick was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen, a substance abuse and psychiatric center. He said he didn’t recall psychiatric treatment there. Instead, he testified that he “Slept, basically for two weeks.”

Notes from that stay, though say that “The patient was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen after attempting suicide by overdosing and superficially slitting his wrist.”

The Patrick camp also released late Thursday a clean bill of mental health from Dr. Stephen Kramer, the psychologist who treated Patrick.

Patrick “was a patient of mine in the mid-1980s,” Kramer wrote in a 2011 letter. “He entered the hospital on a voluntary basis for the treatment of depression. The symptoms of depression decreased within a short period of time and he was discharged.”

Patrick is a Tea-Party favorite and a current state senator. Dewhurst has been lieutenant governor since 2003. Patrick bested Dewhurst in a four-candidate GOP primary in March: Patrick captured 41 percent of the vote to Dewhurst’s 28 percent.

The court documents about Patrick’s mental health past were provided to a small group of Texas media by Jerry Patterson, Texas’ land commissioner who was an unsuccessful GOP primary candidate for lieutenant governor and who now backs Dewhurst.

The Austin-based Texas Tribune reported Friday on an email some political reporters received from Patterson that suggested Dewhurst’s campaign at least knew about Patterson’s email dump to the media. Patterson denies coordinating with the Dewhurst campaign.

“Dewhurst has asked me to cease distribution of this information,” said Patterson. “He also asked me not to run against him for Lt. Gov. I didn’t really give a damn what David wanted then, and I don’t give a damn now. The voters of Texas need to know.”

Dewhurst’s campaign responded late Friday with the following statement:

    “Commissioner Jerry Patterson operates completely independently of my Campaign, and over my objections he chose to release information from Mr. Paul Harasim’s files, which are all part of the public domain. My heart goes out to Dan Patrick and his family for what they’ve endured while coping with this situation.”

Patrick did not appear to believe Dewhurst’s sincerity.

“The public response has been overwhelming,” Patrick said. “Dewhurst has been roundly criticized from all corners. On the other hand, I have received a flood of new support and encouragement – much from those Texans who have suffered from depression or had it touch their families or loved ones.

“Dewhurst started the day denying any involvement in the release of my medical records. His hapless surrogate, Jerry Patterson, removed all doubt in an afternoon email misfire where he clearly stated that it was Dewhurst’s idea. Dewhurst now tries to deny any connection to Patterson while just days ago his campaign produced a video of Patterson cleaning his guns and defaming me.

The leak also comes on the cusp of early voting for the runoff. Early voting begins May 19. Runoff Election Day is May 27.

Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, said the attack on Patrick my backfire.

“If anything, it’s likely to generate sympathy for someone who generally doesn’t elicit a lot of sympathy from voters,” Jones said. “Dan Patrick is seen as something of a hard, sometimes less than straightforward guy… now you’re effectively making him a sympathetic figure.”

Dr. Richard Pesikoff with the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Psychology said that while much of the stigma of mental illness and depression has been erased in recent years, it still is a confusing issue to many.

“The whole issue of mental illness is in a dark corner for some segments of the population,” he said.

Pesikoff also said that mental illness has a particular blemish for some when it comes to politics. He recalled Thomas Eagleton who, in 1972, was briefly George McGovern’s vice-presidential pick. He was asked to withdraw by the McGovern campaign after it was revealed that Eagleton was hospitalized three times for physical and nervous exhaustion.

“Eagleton got a really bad reception when he talked about his psych treatment,” Pesikoff said.

Pesikoff also pointed out that many in the U.S. and Texas have suffered from depression or mental illness.

Indeed, a 2012 National Institute of Mental Health survey shows that 18.6 percent of the country’s population has suffered from some sort of mental illness.

Political scientist Jones thinks that this latest bombshell may be a dud, like some others from the Dewhurst camp.

“David Dewhurst seems to be stuck in the eighties,” Jones said. “Every attack ad is focused on ‘Dan Patrick didn’t pay his taxes in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick hired undocumented immigrants in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick went into bankruptcy in the eighties,’ ‘Dan Patrick had a mental health crises in the eighties.’

“Well, it’s 2014. That was like 30 years ago.”

Producer: Trent Seibert

Washington’s Ominous Credibility Implosion
worker | February 6, 2018 | 7:43 pm | Political Pandemonium, political struggle | Comments closed
The day breaks behind the White House in Washington,DC

Washington’s Ominous Credibility Implosion

© AFP 2018/ PAUL J. RICHARDS
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Finian Cunningham
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https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201802021061295090-washington-ominous-credibility-implosion/

All statecraft and politics is notoriously deceptive and duplicitous to a degree. It’s part of the Machiavellian game and even at times, arguably, can be paradoxically key to success for good outcomes.

But Washington’s current problem is on an altogether different scale. Its rampant duplicity seems to be spinning itself into an ominous credibility crisis. A crisis that conveys historic existential consequences for American democracy and political function. Perhaps even a harbinger of world war.

Take CIA director Mike Pompeo. Last week, he gave a big interview to Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, in which he reiterated serious claims that Russia hacked into the American presidential election in 2016.

Further, he forewarned that Russian state agents were planning to repeat their alleged meddling in the forthcoming mid-term Congressional elections later this year.

However, within days of making such dire accusations against the Kremlin, the American spymaster was reportedly holding meetings in Washington DC with two senior Russian intelligence figures — Alexander Bortnikov and Sergei Naryshkin. The two men represent Russia’s federal and foreign intelligence services, the FSB and SVR, respectively.There was apparently nothing untoward about the top-level meeting. The American and Russian spy chiefs were reportedly exchanging views on counter-terrorism, which arguably is a positive thing. After all, a foiled terror attack in St Petersburg recently was thwarted by Russian security services reportedly following up on a tip-off from the American CIA.

READ MORE: Under Siege: CIA Chief Says Cooperation With Russia Is Critical for US Security

But here’s the thing. Doesn’t it seem a bit strange that the chief of the CIA is warning in very public media interviews that the Kremlin is meddling in US democracy through underhand means, yet virtually his next appointment involves hosting Russia’s top spies?

Not only that, but the two Russian intelligence chiefs in question have been put on an American government sanctions list and travel ban purportedly over Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and “aggression” in Eastern Ukraine.

So, if American official concerns about alleged Russian subversion in the US and abroad are as vexed as they are made out to be in public announcements, then how does that square with Mike Pompeo greeting his Russian counterparts in a convivial professional setting?

READ MORE: Red Scare: Russian Intelligence Chiefs Visit Rattles Washington Post

When the CIA director was challenged by Congressional Democrats about his meeting with the Russians he responded by claiming there was nothing incongruous about their cooperation in Washington, and, he said, it was tough-talking encounter.

“You and the American people should rest assured that we covered very difficult subjects in which American and Russian interests do not align,” stated Pompeo in a written reply to lawmakers.

“We vigorously defend America in these encounters and pull no punches,” he added.

Still, there does seem to be something weirdly misplaced about the official words and actions of the CIA chief, and Washington’s political class in general, with regard to Russia.

On one hand, the CIA and large sections of the US political establishment, including prominent news media outlets have been harping on about grave allegations of Russian meddling in American democracy for more than a year. Some Republican politicians have even gone as far as describing Russia’s supposed interference as “an act of war” by Moscow.

On the other hand, however, the head of the CIA seems to have no problem holding professional meetings with the Russian “arch enemies” right in the seat of American democracy.What we are talking about here is a stupendous lack of consistency, or put another way duplicity; which in turn undermines American credibility over the whole “Russiagate” narrative that has so dominated Washington’s official discourse.

No bigger discrepancy perhaps is the fact that the American head of state, President Donald Trump, maintains that the allegations of Russian collusion and interference are “fake news” — or at least overblown. That puts the country’s leader completely at odds with his head of foreign intelligence.

READ MORE: CIA Director Claims North Korea Months Away from Being Able to Strike US

How is the world supposed to take anything these people say seriously if they are so inconsistent about a matter which, we are told to believe, is a grave national security concern?

They seem to have shot their own credibility to pieces.

In his BBC interview, Pompeo also warned that North Korea was capable of a missile attack on the US “within months”.

This lack of American credibility and the danger of a catastrophic war are correlated.

America’s credibility problem is much bigger than President Trump or his CIA chief. It encompasses the entire American political class.

This past week, the Trump administration released a so-called “Kremlin Report” which impugned 210 leaders of Russian politics and business. The figures included Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as Foreign and Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu. The Washington report, drawn up by the Treasury Department, stems from the claims of Russian interference in US politics.No credible evidence has ever been presented to substantiate the “Russiagate” claims. Moscow has repeatedly rejected the claims as baseless.

Indeed, there is plausible evidence — buried by the US mainstream media — that the alleged hacking of Democratic party computers during the 2016 election campaign was not a hack but rather was a leak from within the party by a staffer disgruntled with candidate Hillary Clinton’s dirty tricks against rival Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders.

It is also now emerging that the agencies which quite possibly interfered in the presidential election were not Russian, but rather America’s own “finest” secret services, the FBI, CIA and NSA, who were allegedly trying to sabotage then Republican candidate, and future president, Donald Trump.

For over a year, the provocative and reckless accusations of Russian interference in American democracy, and additionally in European democracy, have run and run without relent. Even though those accusations have no legs of credibility. Just this past week, as noted, the head of US intelligence solemnly reiterated those claims and is warning of more Russian meddling.Washington’s political class and America’s supposed bastions of journalism have indulged this dubious narrative to brain-numbing saturation point.

But when Washington shows such rampant duplicity and inconsistency that’s not just a problem of unfortunate public relations. It conveys a profound crisis of credibility, authority and legitimacy for the entire edifice of government. That is fatally corrosive to the essence of government and American democracy.

READ MORE: Kremlin Report: US Tries to Punish Russia for Success on Int’l Arena — Analyst

And guess what? It has nothing to do with “Russian enemies”. It is a credibility crisis made solely in America by its own morally and politically bankrupt system of governance.

The resulting chasm in Washington’s credibility has onerous implications for an historic political implosion. And surely the much misled American people will take their revenge. It’s going to get raucous and it’s going to get ugly.

Paradoxically, a day of reckoning could be good for renewing American democracy, eventually.

There again it also makes the world a very dangerous place. Because war, for example a US military strike on North Korea, is a proven Machiavellian escape route for political scoundrels facing a dead-end.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Texas prisons ban ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ but not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’
worker | December 8, 2017 | 8:10 pm | Fascist terrorism, Local/State, police terrorism, Political Pandemonium, political struggle | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/usa/412449-texas-prisons-ban-books/

Texas prisons ban ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ but not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’

Texas prisons ban ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ but not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’
Thousands of books are considered prohibited reading for inmates doing time in Texas prisons. The list of banned and permissible material, however, has raised some eyebrows.

The Texas prison system has banned more than 10,000 selections from the shelves of their on-site libraries, yet it is sometimes difficult to find the logic behind the decision-making process.

For example, Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple,’ which was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, will not be found in Texas prisons. Yet inmates may cuddle up at night with a copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf,’ the notoriously anti-Semitic tract that Hitler began writing, ironically, while behind bars.

‘The Color Purple’ is forbidden because it describes a rape scene.

Other selections with completely innocuous titles – including ‘Hello Kitty,’ ‘Harry Potter Film Wizardry’ and ‘The Amazing Spider Man’ – are prohibited not because of their content, but because they may contain pop-up sections or multilayer pages with which it may be possible to conceal contraband.

Other books are banned from prison libraries in Texas because they may provide certain information that prison officials would prefer not to be disseminated. For example, the ‘History of Pubs and Pubs Signs’ got blacklisted because it contains a section outlining the manufacture of alcohol.

Not everyone, however, agrees that there should be a blacklist for certain controversial books.

“To block access to ‘Where’s Waldo’ on the one hand, and Shakespeare on the other, doesn’t preserve order,” James LaRue, the director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, told the New York Times. “It preserves ignorance and imprisonment. All too often, prison censorship, in addition to being an arbitrary abuse of authority, denies the incarcerated the chance to get out of jail and stay out.”

Nevertheless, some of the titles from the lengthy banned list – including ‘Concealed Carry Handguns,’ ‘The Complete Survival Guide,’ ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Kickboxing’ and ‘FBI Handbook of Crime Scene Forensics’ – seem like obvious choices to keep out of the hands of the general prisoner population.

At the same time, one may wonder how ‘My Awakening’ by David Duke, an American white nationalist, got the green light.

Novels of an erotic nature are only banned if the sexual behavior is unlawful, which explains why some of E.L. James’ ‘Fifty Shades’ books were deemed inappropriate.

“If the book does not violate the uniform offender correspondence policy, then offenders are allowed to have it,” Clark, a spokesman at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told The New York Times. “Offenders have access to thousands of publications.”

Prisoners serving time in the Texas prison system have access to more than 248,000 titles, which were detailed by the Dallas Morning News in November.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a publication may be banned because it contains:

– Information on the manufacture of explosives, weapons or drugs.

– Material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption, like strikes, riots.

– Graphic presentations of illegal sex acts, “such as rape, incest, sex with a minor, bestiality, necrophilia or bondage.”

– Sexually explicit images. “Naked or partially covered buttocks” does not necessarily mean automatic disapproval. Staff review required for publications containing nudity on a case-by-case basis.

– Information on criminal schemes or “how to avoid detection of criminal schemes.”

– Contraband that cannot be removed.